The holidays can be a stressful time for many clients if they are going through or have recently been divorced and are facing the holidays or an anniversary of the divorce. During and immediately after the holidays is a good time to help them adjust to the many changes brought about by a divorce.
The collaborative team can help parents and couples who are currently undergoing a divorce think about and plan how to handle holidays, anniversaries, and other special occasions in the coming year. By helping couples and parents think about and face these predictable emotional times, the collaborative team can help clients anticipate, appreciate, and even avoid some of the more difficult feelings during the coming year with their es-spouse and the children.
Anticipate Renewed Grief
During and immediately after a divorce, most people think that they are probably going through the worst of their grief and may begin to look forward to feeling better about themselves and their world in the coming year—which is a realistic expectation. However, they don’t realize that anniversaries and holidays can trigger renewed feelings of loss and grief over a divorce. Help your clients understand and anticipate their renewed feelings of grief and encourage them to experience and deal with their feelings rather than denying or ignoring them because that will accelerate adjusting to the loss.
Check with Your Old Clients
Send a note, e-mail, or call your old clients to see how they are dealing with the divorce and their loss as holidays and anniversaries approach. Suggest they develop new family traditions to help them and their children through holidays and anniversaries. For example, events can be duplicated at both houses at different times so the children have a chance to bond with both parents during happy and festive times. Suggest that newly divorced spouses engage with their extended families to avoid feeling lonely over the holidays. Also, recommend that parents lower their expectations about how long they can cope with new situations and plan short holiday festivities of a few hours rather than an entire day as they adjust to being a single parent. Suggest that recently divorced parents avoid bringing new partners to holiday festivities for the first few years because of the children. Finally, tell newly divorced parents be kind to themselves and their children and don’t expect everything to be perfect the first year after a divorce.
Be Realistic About Your Own Schedule
Communicate to needy clients that you are also busy during the holidays and not always available to take their calls when they contact you. Assure your clients you will return their calls as soon as possible, but it may not always be immediately.